When we talk about approval ratings, we’re talking about national polls, of course. And in six recently conducted polls (from Fox News, Gallup, McClatchy-Marist, NBC-SurveyMonkey, CBS News and Quinnipiac University), Trump gets under 50 percent approval in each. The high comes from Fox News, where he was at 48 percent approval (and 47 percent disapproval). The low was Quinnipiac, where he was at 38.
That said, there are pockets where Trump is viewed positively by a majority. Specifically, among Republicans. And, more specifically, among white Republicans without college degrees.
Many of the polls don’t break down the respondents so narrowly, since more narrowly targeted groups require talking to more people — and that drives up the cost of the poll. (Polls are expensive! If you’re curious how polls are developed, here you go.) Among groups broken out in at least three of the six polls listed above, it’s only Republicans (85.2 percent, on average), whites (50.4) and whites without college degrees (57.6) that are above the 50 percent line.
See if you can spot the one blue dot that hints at why Fox News’s overall approval rating is so much higher than the other polls. Did you spot it? That’s right, it’s that over-50-percent approval from independents, a figure not matched anywhere else.
That dot stands out when we look at the numbers another way: How each group views Trump relative to the overall approval rate. The blue Fox independents dot is to the right of the mid-line, meaning that, in that poll, independents were more positive toward Trump than the pool of respondents overall. Other groups that consistently fall on that side of the line: Men, white people, those without a college degree and those 65 and older.
Those of you who were paying close attention during the general election will recognize whites without college degrees as having always made up the core of Trump’s base of support. (We even wrote about it!) According to exit polling, about half of those who voted for Trump fell into the whites-without-a-college-degree category.
So far, it seems as though Trump’s strict adherence to the campaign promises he outlined for that group in the primary has not been successful at wooing many other people to his side. (Contrary to what White House chief of staff Reince Priebus might think, most people generally disapprove of what Trump’s done.) Trump won the primary with that core, powered through the general on the strength of that core of support and now enjoys it as one of the only groups to think he’s doing a good job.
That should be easy for anyone to accept — regardless of their bubble.